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Balancing Life as a Doctor & Real Estate Investor

I’ve always said that the best part about starting this blog is meeting all of you out there. I love hearing your stories, learning from you, and sharing in our journey. To that end, Franky Davis, an orthopedic surgeon in Tennessee, is someone I met early on in my own real estate investing journey. Seeing Franky’s growth over the past few years has been incredibly inspiring. And he’s offered to share an inside look into how he balances life as a doctor and real estate investor.

He is also the creator of the The Real Estate Investor, MD online course and this post contains an affiliate link for that course.

I’m honored to be able to share his story here. Take it away Franky!

And as a preview, my favorite part of Franky’s journey is how perfectly it illustrates how real estate investing is exactly like a flywheel, not a rocket!

Life as a doctor and real estate investor

Study hard, make top grades, master the test, earn a prestigious degree. From a young age, these were the things I thought were the keys to achieving financial security.

real estate doctor
The Davis family

Success measured by achieving as much as possible academically. This mentality, in addition to my desire to care for others and help improve their quality of life, led me to my chosen path, the medical path, becoming a physician. I grew up in a home where my father, a practicing dentist, modeled the work ethic I would need to provide for my family as he had. He showed me that even though he came from humble beginnings, studying and working hard in the classroom can lead to great success. He finished training, started a practice, and worked 30 years.

So, that’s what I watched and that’s what I came to know as normal and the measure for my success.

Flash forward

…and I was able to achieve most of what my “goal” contained. As a highschool student, my goal was to get into college.

As a college student, it was to be accepted into medical school.

In medical school, orthopedics residency stood ahead.

In order to achieve these goals, I studied my life away to be at the top of my class, perform on boards, and give myself an opportunity to be a competitive applicant for orthopedics. This dream came true and my pursuit to be an orthopedic surgeon began in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2016. 

Academic success was a top goal, but I also desired a meaningful family life

Like many of us, I wanted to share my successes with a partner and eventually, children. After my first year of medical school, I married my beautiful wife, Anna. During my 3rd year surgery rotation, our son, Trey, was born. I attempted to divide my time to allow me to be a husband and dad.

And my finances never really came into the picture

Like most medical students, federal student loans were the means to the end. My wife worked full time as a teacher, getting her masters and becoming, essentially, a single mom to support us through training. However, that didn’t get us to a point that allowed for any sort of “saving”. 

The bubble sort of burst for me as I began to assess our financial scenario as a 2nd year resident.

I was making minimum monthly payments on the REPAYE repayment plan. I planned for public service loan forgiveness. On the surface, at best, I was going to finish at 32 years old, no savings for retirement, no savings for college funds, and nearly a quarter million dollars worth of debt.

I panicked!

I sat down with my wife to discuss and implement budgeting strategies. Meanwhile, I also attempted to setup a Roth IRA in order to save a minuscule amount every month. But, no matter what I tried to do, I didn’t feel like financial recovery was on the horizon. It just seemed like the ability to be lucrative and escape the debt hamster wheel was much harder than it had been previously.

That’s when I began to read about diversifying in real estate as a doctor

From what I read, I felt as if creating ownership of assets that generate a monthly cash flow would be an opportunity for me to, perhaps, recover financially. In the beginning, this curiosity just led to knowledge acquisition.

This had to be the first step.

Utilizing a single bluetooth earbud while on rounds and walking the halls of the hospital, I began listening to over 200 episodes of The Bigger Pockets Podcast. This soon led to listening to more than 20 real estate investment books to become educated. I was hooked. Hours of listening on my commute and alongside my clinical responsibilities, I began to acquire the necessary knowledge. As the knowledge grew, the confidence also grew as did the desire to “begin”.

I learned, theoretically, how to identify markets, network in those markets, create a team, formulate a deal flow machine and pursue financing opportunities. I learned how to begin marketing campaigns, find and contact motivated sellers, and negotiate. And I learned how to get deals closed, take them over, reposition them and refinance to generate equity that could then be implemented as a tool for further growth.

I did all of this before ever taking an actual step. I had to learn how to talk the talk before I could walk.

As my confidence grew, I knew the first step was to find financing

I had no real capital, but I did have one asset the general population typically doesn’t have, my future earning potential as an orthopedic surgeon. So, that was my selling point. I called greater than 50 community banks having learned that they can manipulate their terms based on holding their notes on their books.

That allowed me to “pitch myself” and my future earning potential as leverage to get low money down or no money down financing. After many rejections, I finally received a yes, securing zero money down financing on my first rental purchase. With a rate of 5.75% and a 25 year term, I was ready to roll.

Step number next was to start finding deals

But how?

I then began looking on in my target market. My market was small to medium, 50,000-125,000 people. I wanted to compete in a market not over saturated by out of town investors or private equity/Wall Street money, but I also wanted good rental potential and positive macroeconomic drivers.

Following finding that market, I began contacting commercial brokers from LoopNet. I would have a brief description of what I wanted. This was something like, “I’m looking for a small single family, duplex or triplex that has been built within the last 10 years. I’d like for it to have a pitched roof with current tenants in place. I’d like for it to be priced at a point allowing for rents to achieve 1% or better grossly every month of the purchase price.” This would achieve the “1% rule”. 

At this point, deals started coming in

I quickly settled on a duplex, 3 bed and 2.5 bath on each side in a great little sub market. This was built in the last 5 years and was currently rented. The property rented for 925/mo and had upside potential for sure. The listed price was $230k. So, I came in with a low offer of $175k. At that point, our negotiations began, allowing us to settle at $210k.


We subsequently took over that property and hired a property manager. That relationship went south and we had to hire another that fit our needs. As that relationship developed, we were able to raise rents to $1100/side and significantly improve efficiency and expenses. We were off to the races.

Once stabilized, I began searching for “off market leads”. We purchased lax data lists off and began targeting with direct mail. I hired a virtual assistant to comb the internet to data mine and look at the tax assessors data as well based on certain criteria.

This strategy brought us our second deal, a 5 unit single family home portfolio. We bought this portfolio, rented for around $65k/door. We implemented the same plan, raising the value to nearly $95k/door. Soon followed a second duplex purchased at $130k and turned over to be valued at over $200k. The momentum continued to build as we purchased a 48 unit self storage facility, stepping into the commercial space. 

Did we utilize any special tools?


Did we implement contacts that aren’t attainable by anybody?


All we did was find out what our leverage point was. This was our future income potential. As we did that, the financing became an option. Once that hurdle was overcome, all that limited our growth was our personal knowledge and work ethic. 

Fast forward 3 and a half years…

I’m now in my second year of practice. I’m in a small southeastern town and am happy with my career choice. But my financial anxiety has diminished not because I’ve achieved my goal in the medical field. In fact, that arguably has made it worse.

The desire to push to reach numbers and productivity goals makes clinical practice have a gray hue at times.

Our real estate success thus far has helped alleviate some of that stress. Over the same time span, we’ve been able to sell the properties described above at a significant profit and 1031 tax-deferred exchange them into larger assets. We now own 2 duplexes, a 10 unit commercial property, a mixed use 2 commercial/5 loft apartment property, an additional two commercial spaces, a 93 unit self storage facility, 152 acre timber farm and a short term rental vacation lake house that our family absolutely loves.

This step by step game-plan is achievable by anyone

I didn’t implement any secrets. Just a consistent, step by step plan that I implemented based on the hours of education referenced above. 

Now, I feel as if we have recovered. Our real estate holdings are valued at over $4M and we have about a 40% equity position at this point. This has allowed us to rocket our net worth from a big chunk in the negative to more than a million dollars in just a few years. 

As our success has grown, so has my desire to network and meet with like minded people

I can’t tell you how often I’m discussing real estate with like minded doctor and non-doctor friends. We recently set up a local real estate meet-up to promote networking and communication. I continually spend time on platforms such as Bigger Pockets, the white coat investor, and others. I am always trying to network and gather more knowledge on social media presences such as The Prudent Plastic Surgeon.

Learning is the key!

That is  what motivated me to create The Real Estate Investor, MD online course.

With more than 7 hours of physician specific educational material, this guide will help eliminate the time variable required for knowledge accrual. This resource helps remove the analysis paralysis hurdle and promote action to help physicians, like me, take back control of their financial future.

I have very much enjoyed my real estate journey as a doctor

My goal for now is to continue to promote exponential growth of my portfolio.

The growth at this point has allowed me to achieve things I never expected. Not only that, it has allowed me to significantly minimize my tax burden, capturing as much of the revenue generated by my hard work in medicine.

I’d encourage any physician or high income earning professional to do the same. You won’t regret it!

Jordan here! As a post-script to this, I just want to re-iterate what I think is the most important thing that Franky has shared here: there are no secrets. Anyone can do this! Any doctor can be a successful real estate investor if she or he wants to. You certainly have seen how Franky and his family did it. And how me and Selenid did it.

The scariest thing is always getting started. But once you take that first step, you’ll realize that it’s still all ok! The best analogy that I can think of is this: Imagine when you were an intern. Did you feel ready to manage patients? No way! But we believed we could figure it out and we did. This is no different (and actually it’s way easier than medicine)!

Here are some other resources to help doctor real estate investors of any experience level!

What do you think? Does this recipe seem like something other doctors could replicate? What is the biggest things stopping you from investing in real estate as a doctor? Let me know in the comments below!

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    Jordan Frey MD, a plastic surgeon in Buffalo, NY, is one of the fastest-growing physician finance bloggers in the world. See how he went from financially clueless to increasing his net worth by $1M in 1 year and how you can do the same! Feel free to send Jordan a message at [email protected].

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